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Gay Villains and Network TV


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from AfterElton ...

Gay Villains Back with a Vengeance on Network TV

by Sarah Warn, May 18, 2005

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A lying, scheming hit-and-run driver. A disgraced son whose homosexuality puts the country at risk for nuclear war. A social-climber who killed a man to stay closeted. Currently, these are the only prominent gay characters you'll see on network TV dramas--and the landscape doesn't look likely to change anytime soon.

Teen bad boy Andrew Van De Kamp (Shawn Pyfrom) was revealed mid-way through the first season of the hit ABC dramedy Desperate Housewives to be something other than straight (whether he's gay or bi is not yet clear). Prior to this revelation, Andrew was best known for having accidentally hit an elderly woman in the street with his car, and leaving her there. He has since made it his mission to destroy his mother's life, telling a priest in a recent episode, "one day when [my mother] least expects it, I

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FROM AfterElton ...

Gay Sitcom Characters Abound in 2005-2006 Season

by Sarah Warn, May 23, 2005

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The networks have now officially announced which new and returning series made the cut for their fall and mid-season lineups for the 2005-2006 season, and there is good news and bad for gay men.

The good news is that five pilots with gay characters got picked up, bringing the total of known gay leading, supporting, and recurring characters next season to at least nine. The bad news is that all of the series are sitcoms, and four of the five gay characters are somewhat stereotypical recurring or supporting characters, rather than leading ones.

The fall sitcom with the biggest buzz so far is Fox's Kitchen Confidential, starring Bradley Cooper (Alias) as an ex-bad boy chef running a top New York restaurant. The series reportedly includes a snobby gay waiter named Cameron (Sam Pancake) in a small role.

Then there is ABC's Emily's Reasons Why Not stars Heather Graham as Emily, a successful single woman searching for love. Among her group of friends is queeny black gay man Josh (Khary Payton), who dishes with Emily about men and fashion.

The WB sitcom Twins, starring Sara Gilbert and Molly Stanton as fraternal twins who have little in common (and Melanie Griffiths as their mother), includes recurring character Neil (Christopher Fitzgerald) who is described as a "flamboyantly gay technician."

Finally, one of the kids on the Fox family sitcom The War at Home has a gay teen friend named Kenny (a small recurring role).

The mid-season debut of ABC's Crumbs offers the most potential for a well-developed, three-dimensional gay character. The sitcom co-stars Fred Savage (Wonder Years) as a semi-closeted gay man who teams up with his straight brother, played by Eddie McClintock, to run the family restaurant when their parents, played by Jane Curtin (3rd Rock from the Sun) and William Devane (24), go through a nasty divorce.

Here's the official CBS description of the series:

Family is enough to drive anyone a little crazy. Children keep secrets from their parents so they won't upset them, dads leave for other women and moms try to run over dads with the car. Actually, that was the point when the Crumb family realized Mom was crazy. Estranged brothers Mitch (Savage) and Jody (McClintock) Crumb reunite in their small hometown to deal with their mother, Suzanne, who is being released from a psychiatric country club and has yet to discover that her ex-husband, Billy, is about to have a baby with his new girlfriend. They have issues -- major issues. Central to everything is the dynamic between these two brothers: Mitch is the prodigal son who is returning home after a failed Hollywood career, and Jody is the older brother who has stayed in the confines of their small New England town to run the family business. Together for the first time as adults, this family will have to stick by one another despite their combustible relationships.

Although this description omits any mention of Mitch's sexual orientation, clips of the pilot episode for Crumbs show him in bed with another man, so they're not shying away from the subject on the show itself. But whether it's incorporated into the series beyond the occasional reference remains to be seen.

With the addition of these new sitcoms, the cancellation of Kevin Hill and Eyes, and the renewal of Will and Grace and Half and Half, gay characters on network TV next season so far appear to be found overwhelmingly on sitcoms. The only known gay character on a network drama next season is Desperate Housewives's evil teen Andrew (and whether he's even gay is open to debate).

There were a few promising dramas with gay characters in development for the fall season, like NBC's Book of Daniel, which included a Log Cabin Republican dealing with a recent break-up and the death of his twin brother years before, and the WB's Dean Cain-led Grown Men, about a group of former fraternity brothers--including a formerly closeted gay man--who reunite thirteen years after college. The CBS drama Love Monkey, about four male friends at different stages of life, one of whom is a gay former Major League Baseball player, was also in the running. But none of these dramas were picked up.

Which means that although there will be more gay characters on TV next season, with a few exceptions, they are largely what they've always been on network television: two-dimensional comic relief.

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